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Cemetery plot debate mires French Roma baby funeral

Monday, January 05, 2015 - 01:14

The alleged refusal of a French mayor to bury a Roma baby in the local cemetery sparks an outcry in France, with the funeral taking place in a neighbouring town. Vanessa Johnston reports.

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France's Roma community prepares to bury a baby girl -- following a heated public debate. Maria Francesca reportedly died in this Roma camp, located in Champlan, on Christmas Day. Her funeral is now being held in a neighboring town... ...after Champlan's conservative mayor, Christian Leclerc, allegedly refused to allow the baby's burial in his municipality... Sparking accusations of racism. Loic Gandais is president of the local Roma and Romanian support association. (SOUNDBITE) (French) PRESIDENT OF THE LOCAL ROMA AND ROMANIAN SUPPORT GROUP LOIC GANDAIS SAYING: "It's the second time the mother has lost a baby to sudden infant death syndrome...so she's devastated." The Roma's nomadic lifestyle and reputation for pickpocketing and aggressive begging have made them controversial in France... ...and a subject that has helped boost the far right. But Far Right National Front leader Marine Le Pen echoed many other politicians. (SOUNDBITE) (French) LEADER OF NATIONAL FRONT MARINE LE PEN SAYING (STARTS ON SHOT OF REPORTER): "I think that this was a mistake on the part of the mayor. It shows a lack of humanity." Leclerc has denied opposing the baby's burial in Champlan. Maria Francesca's family is now focused on saying goodbye.

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Cemetery plot debate mires French Roma baby funeral

Monday, January 05, 2015 - 01:14